Olympics have me wondering, ‘what’s my time?’

curling stones

What if, instead of this, we were curling right now? PHOTO: BC Living, Creative Commons license

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

Watching the Winter Olympics always makes me glad we don’t have to walk around knowing where we rank at this point in our lives and how many seconds off the leader we are.

If you’ve been watching the Olympics you know what I’m talking about. Alpine skiers screech down a mountain at 80 mph, faster than I’ve driven a car since I had children. Every so often they pass a little electronic sensor that tells everyone at home whether this person — who, mind you, is one bad ski from death and dismemberment — is “winning” or not. Networks even have the technology to show us what the other skiers looked like when they were hurtling down the facade of Mount Doom at the same point.

I’m in my mid-30s. At this point in his life Garrison Keillor was live on the radio six days a week, with New Yorker essays and novels hitting the stands left and right. What’s that work out to? Six seconds in a ski race? I can’t make that up on this run. And I’m probably a good 12 minutes of skiing behind Alexander the Great, who managed to conquer the known world, imperialize it, and die of mysterious causes by the time he was two years younger than me. Can’t beat that either, though I must admit I wouldn’t trade places.

The Olympics show those of us sitting at home a variety of amazing feats we could be doing had we at some point years ago considered trying.

No one denies the amount of skill necessary to succeed in all winter sports. Still, one also notices that perhaps the only thing separating a common person from that success is the vast amount of time and training spent on the endeavor. For instance, luge seems to very closely resemble something I did as a kid called “sledding.” I remember going pretty fast on sleds as a kid, but never as fast as the luge guys and gals on the Olympics.

What if instead of “not sledding anymore” when I went to college, I had instead opted to “sled more?” What if I got a better sled, found a really fast place to sled — an icy labyrinth that seems to have been designed for the purpose of making sleds go faster — and did crunches like a madman so I could plank like a boss when the sled went zoom. Well, hot damn, I would be an Olympian had I done those things. But I never considered it. I never said “No, I shall not luge.” I simply didn’t know that luging was a viable path for me.

And curling is even closer to home, quite literally. We’ve been following our U.S. men’s curling team because so many Iron Rangers and Duluthians are on the team. Skipped by Chisholm native John Shuster, and featuring Hibbing’s Jered Zezel, Virginia’s Jeff Isaacson and Duluth’s John Landsteiner, you can’t get more local than these guys. Watching them curl for America against the world greats simply reminds me of how, in most ways, these guys are just like a lot of the guys around here. They talk like me. They walk around like me. They apparently eat like me. The only thing they’ve got that I don’t have is the ability to take this round stone and skid it across pebbled ice so that it lands in the middle of a circle.

Now, I could yell “Anyone could do that!” but that’s not true. I can’t do that. I haven’t tried, and I expect that if I did it would require several years of training before I could. And then … well, maybe then I could be an Olympian. Maybe.

We only have so much time. Which is why I’m glad it’s not counted out on a screen in front of us. We have to live it. Sled more. Curl more. Do what you’re supposed to do.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. The next program will broadcast live from Mesabi Range College in Virginia at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 22. Call 218-326-1234 to reserve free tickets for limited seating. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.


Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.